Nidaros Cathedral, Trondhiem, Norway
Today is, truly, a day for great celebration. The first of three such celebrations that will take place this Autumn.
I am sure that all of us here this evening felt that we were participating in something truly historic - we are all very grateful to the Church of Norway for their splendid hospitality here in Trondheim and for the wonderful service in which we have all just shared.
I think it is appropriate at this moment to address some words of thanks to all those who have helped bring this about. We are especially grateful to all those who served on the discussions and dialogues which eventuated in the Porvoo Common Statement. I am particularly glad that so many of them are here tonight - and from quite extraordinary distances. I think that the Bishop of Ballarat, David Silk, must have come the furthest!
I think that we owe a particular debt of thanks to the Rt Revd Dr Tor Fureberg and the Rt Revd David Tustin, the co-chairman of the conversations whose wise leadership helped the participants cover such large amounts of territory.
There is always a danger, on these occasions, to overlook the contribution made by staff to the smooth running of the conversations. Without their assiduous work we would not have been able to celebrate this evening. So our thanks go to Dr Mary Tanner, Dr Colin Podmore and the Revd Pirjo Tyorinoja.
The presence with us this evening of the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation reminds us that although the unity that we have achieved in the Porvoo Agreement is confined only to a relatively small part of Northern Europe, the implications of what we have achieved have a much wider significance. Relationships between Lutherans and Anglicans around the world are, at present, a particularly fruitful area of ecumenical encounter. I very much want to encourage that. I hope that in Lambeth Conference in 1998 we shall not only benefit from representative bishops from the Porvoo Churches but we will also be able to examine the consequences of the theology and ecclesiology which lies beneath Porvoo and other agreements between Lutherans and Anglicans around the world, and see how we can deepen and extend our common life together.
Finally, the test of the success of the Porvoo Agreement will be in its implementation. It must not be allowed to gather dust upon the Library shelf. It is too important for that. I believe that in signing the agreement, as we have done this evening, we are witnessing to the world that our churches take the Gospel imperative seriously. We need to display our unity in our common mission.
Already the fruits of the Porvoo Agreement are beginning to show themselves and we must always keep the agreement before our eyes and not let its great opportunities pass us by.